Judge Invalidates Citizens' Petition to Strip Trupiano Family of Nightclub Liquor License


Aprille and Nick Trupiano - PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Photo by Jennifer Silverberg
  • Aprille and Nick Trupiano
The Trupiano siblings -- operators of The Social House in Soulard and the now-defunct Club Lure on Washington Avenue -- won a big battle this week in the long-standing war over their liquor license.

On Wednesday, 22nd Circuit Judge Mark Neill invalidated a petition drive that had been launched against them back in 2010 -- the year that downtown loft-dwellers, business-owners and The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis all began blaming Club Lure for the rowdy and violent behavior plaguing the nightclub district. (Click here for our feature on the controversy).

In his ruling this week, Judge Neill wrote that the Excise Division should not have sustained that protest petition because it contained two kinds of invalid signatures: Those submitted via-email (which city code forbids), and those submitted on behalf of a homeowners association (which essentially allows folks to vote twice).
"It's a huge win," says John Bouhasin, the Trupianos' attorney. "The perception people had was that the majority of property owners and residents wanted them out of there, and that Lure was the cause of the problems in the neighborhood, and that just wasn't the case."

(The Trupianos have since closed Lure and opened up The Social House in Soulard, but controversy has followed them there: A man was murdered behind the club in January.)

City Hall spokeswoman Kara Bowlin has e-mailed Daily RFT to remind us that the appeal process is only half-over. Judge Neill ruled only on the petition issue, not on the Excise Division's independent decision in September 2010 to revoke the Trupianos' license.

That decision was made not by the Excise Commissioner (thanks to a truly incredible coincidence and conflict of interest, which you can read about here), but by Municipal Judge Margaret J. Walsh -- if that sounds familiar, she's the judge who resigned in February amid investigations of various improprieties.

However, before sending this part of the appeal back to counsel, Judge Neill did write that despite Walsh's ruling in favor or revocation, "there is little or no evidence to support" the charges against Club Lure.

"If city would like to negotiate, we'd be open to it," Bouhasin says. "But we're more than confident and comfortable moving toward a hearing. Ultimately the goal is for these young men to carry on operation in the city, in cooperation with the city."  

Read the ruling below.
Judge Neill on Petition Drive v. Lure


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